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Apricot Almond Traybake

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Stone fruit is just coming into season in Sydney at the start of summer.  While peaches and nectarines are still a little firm, apricots are good eating.

The traybake is based on a recipe from Gabriel Gate from an SBS program, see here for the original. This is an ultra simple cake, made in a square tin in a shallow layer so that you end up with a traybake rather than a cake. I think it works quite well in this form.  I also made the whole cake in food processor, making it really simple.

Ingredients 

5 ripe apricots
150 g butter
100 g caster sugar
3 free-range eggs
50 g honey
120 g ground almonds
100 g self-raising flour
20 g flaked almonds

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan-forced. Grease and line with baking paper a 24 cm square cake tin. Halve the apricots and remove stones.

Cream the butter and caster sugar in the food processor. Add the eggs and process till well mixed. Stir in the honey and then the ground almond and flour.

Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and arrange the apricot halves on top. Sprinkle with flaked almonds in the spaces between the apricots.

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Bake the cake in the preheated oven for  30-35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.  When cool, gently lift the whole traybake out of the tin using the baking paper.

Brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam to glaze and cut into squares to serve.

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Jamie’s Smoked Salmon and Yorkshire Pudding

I’m revisiting a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals. It’s basically a big Yorkshire pudding with smoked salmon, char-grilled asparagus and baby beetroot, with a yoghurt sauce. I added some char-grilled green beans.

Jamie cooks the Yorkie in an oven proof frying pan. I cooked mine in a cake tin, which actually worked really well.

It’s a great recipe – really easy and super fast. Maybe not quite 15 minutes – but not much more!

Ingredients

Yorkshire pudding
Olive oil
2 large eggs
150ml low fat milk
65g plain flour

180g smoked salmon
1 bunch of asparagus
A handful of green beans
Juice of ½ lemon
6 baby beetroot

Sauce
3 heaped tbsp fat-free natural yoghurt
1 heaped tsp horseradish or French mustard

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sized cake tin and place in the oven and heat till the oil is really hot.

Put the eggs into a blender or food processor, add the milk and flour, then blitz until smooth.

Carefully pour the batter into the hot cake tin and cook in the oven until golden (about 12 minutes). Don’t be tempted to open the oven door!

Trim the asparagus and beans and put dry on a hot char grill plate or barbecue, turning until nicely charred on all sides.

Drain and slice the beetroot, then place over some salad greens on a board or plate. Mix the yoghurt and horseradish or mustard in a bowl, then season to taste with salt.

Squeeze lemon juice over the asparagus and beans, add salt and pepper, and pile on the board or plate.

When the Yorkshire pudding is really high and puffed up, remove from the oven, slide it on to the board or plate and place the smoked salmon on top of the pudding. Delicious and different!

Middle Eastern Rosewater and Yoghurt Cakes

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A fabulously easy recipe which makes lovely little Bundt cakes or one large one.

I was first introduced to this recipe in a few years back,  when a director colleague made them to celebrate her production of the Tales of the Arabian Nights.

The link to the original recipe from the taste website is here.

I can testify as to how easy they really are! I have recently broken my wrist, and I was able to make these cakes one-handed, that’s how easy they are! The original recipe doesn’t specify a food processor, but I made mine in a food processor to simplify the recipe, and the result was perfectly fine.

The recipe makes one large Bundt cake or 8 smaller Bundt cakes; you would get 10 -12 cup cakes from the recipe too.

Ingredients
1 cup (250ml) canola oil
1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (280g) natural yoghurt
2 cups (300g) self-raising flour, sifted
2 tbs rosewater
1 cup (150g) icing sugar, sifted
1-2 drops pink food colouring
Sugared rose petals for decoration or a little icing sugar

Method
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Grease and flour eight 1-cup (250ml) Bundt moulds or one large Bundt mould.

Place the oil, caster sugar and eggs in a bowl. Using electric beaters, beat until well combined. Stir in yoghurt, followed by flour, then stir in half the rosewater.
Put the mixture into the mould/s.

Bake for 30-35 minutes for the smaller cakes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. For the larger cake, you will need 10 minutes longer. Check with a skewer for “doneness” after 35 minutes.

Cool slightly in moulds, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

For icing, place icing sugar in a bowl with remaining rosewater and colouring. Use a wooden spoon to gradually stir in enough warm water (about 2-3 tsp), to make a smooth, flowing icing.

Turn out cooled cake/s, then drizzle with icing and decorate with sugared rose petals and fresh flowers. Or just dust with a little icing sugar.

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Christmas Festive Trifle

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If you’re looking for a beautiful and colourful trifle for the festive season, this one is great and pretty easy.

I made it for last year’s festivities when I had a large gathering of family and friends for a post Christmas lunch. It was 40 degrees C and so hot! A cool dessert was definitely what we were all after!

The recipe is adapted from a recipe created by Queen Vanilla products and Dr Oetker products. I liked the idea of the cheesecake filling instead of custard and cream. The recipe also created some green chocolate bark, which I thought pretty festive too.

Ingredients

Cake and berries:

4 x 250g punnets berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or any others you fancy). Frozen berries are fine too, I used a mixture of both.

A good slosh of an orange liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Marnier)

A little caster sugar to taste if the berries are too sharp in flavour

2 sponge cake layers (bought is fine here as it’s only going to be dowsed in liqueur and berry juice)

Cheesecake filling:

280g cream cheese

90g unsalted butter

2 2/3 cups icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

450 mls cream

Green chocolate bark:

150g original Oreos roughly blitzed in the food processor – you should have some bigger bits and some crumbs

300g white chocolate

A few drops green food colouring

Method

Combine all the berries in bowl, leaving a good handful for decorating the top of the trifle. You should cut the strawberries in halves unless they are tiny. Splosh on some orange liqueur, and add a little caster sugar to taste if the berries need sweetening. Leave for a few hours to allow the berries to release their juices.

Cut up the sponge into squares about 5 cms 0r 2 inches. It really doesn’t matter too much – they just need to be able to fit into your trifle bowl. You will also need to cut some odd shapes to fill in the gaps. Make a layer of sponge on the bottom of the bowl. Add a decent layer of berries, making sure you spoon some of the liquid over the cake so that it turns red.

To make the cheesecake filling, beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add icing sugar gradually, beating till the mixture is well combined. Add the vanilla bean paste. Whip the cream in separate bowl until just thickened, then fold into the cheesecake mixture.

Add layer of cheesecake mixture to the berries layer in the trifle bowl.

Repeat the layering – sponge, berries and juices and cheesecake mixture, ending with a berry layer. The number of layers you get will depend on the size of your bowl and your generosity in layering. As you can see from the photo I got 3 layers of sponge and berries and 2 of cheesecake mixture. You should leave enough of the cheesecake mixture to decorate the top (3 tablespoons or so should do it). Refrigerate until ready to finish the decorations and serve.

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Midnight Oil: Back Home and Back in Form


Wow! Back home the Oils were at their energetic and acerbic best in the Hunter Valley in October, delivering raw powerful rock with a not so subltle message,  exhorting us to save our planet and save our species (morally at least) from further destructive acts.

We’re at Hope Estate. It’s Saturday 21 October and we were about to witness the much anticipated – and much hyped – return of Midnight Oil to the stage. I write this post on the day of the culminating Oz event for the Oils,  the concert in the Domain in Sydney, Saturday 11 November. Which will be mega, as they play to their home town crowd.

We were back in the Hunter too. The Doctors and the Rock Chick, who has been my partner in crime in lots of adventures. We’ve been to many gigs over the years – who could forget Led Zeppelin in 1972? We were young, single and fancy free, but now at least we’re single once more and still very much fancy free!

After a world tour that took them to venues in both hemispheres, Midnight Oil were back home and back in form!

The weather behaved – a classic Hunter Valley spring night – cloudless, inky black and starry.

Hope Estate was packed, with a capacity crowd usually only seen for uber celebrity rock acts like the Stones or the Boss. The crowd spanned the ages, mums and dads, little kids, grandads and grandmums, and loads of Gen Xs who grew up on  the music. The Gen Ys seemed a little mystified with the rock star reverence that their parents were showing as iconic song followed iconic song.

The band played for a non-stop 2 hours. So much energy on stage! Rob Hirst’s drum solo was exhilarating, so much Power in his drumming with so much undoubted Passion!

But it’s front man Peter Garrett who is the riveting performer onstage. His voice, punching out the lyrics, his literally huge presence, and his Joe Cocker like disjointed strutting  across the stage, are what Midnight Oil are all about.

And we are left in no doubt about the message. The Oils may not directly directly influence politics, but it’s clear that their huge following may just be the ones to start off that process of social change.

Peter, your music speaks so much louder than your politics…

Set List Saturday 21 October 

Redneck Wonderland

Read About It

In The Valley

Stand in Line

River Runs Red

Truganini

Hercules

My Country

When the Generals Talk

Short Memory

US Forces

Kosciusko

Only the Strong

Put Down That Weapon

Beds Are Burning

Blue Sky Mine

Forgotten Years

Dreamworld

Encore:

The Dead Heart

Power and the Passion

Best of Both Worlds

Encore 2:

King of the Mountain

 

 

Strawberry Scone Cake

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This is a scone recipe that’s pretty well known, using lemonade and cream.

I’m not completely convinced that this combination is better than sugar and butter. Anyway, I gave this recipe a go. It’s from The Australian Women’s Weekly Love to Bake. They call it “Strawberry Bliss Scones”, but I think it’s more of a scone cake. It’s filled with fresh strawberries and white chocolate.

Here’s the recipe with a few tweaks. I took the oven temperature down to 200 degrees C from the recommended 220 degrees C which I thought was too hot.

Ingredients

525g self-raising flour
150g white chocolate, cut into 5mm pieces
250m chilled lemonade
1 cup cream
150g strawberries, cut into 5mm pieces
1 tbls icing sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Line 2 trays with baking paper.

Sift flour into a large bowl and mix in chocolate. Combine lemonade and cream in a jug and pour  over the flour mixture.

Using a knife, cut liquid through flour mixture until it starts to clump. Add strawberries and continue to combine until the mixture comes together forming a dough. Be careful not to over work or the dough will be tough.

Divide dough in half. Shape one half into an 18cm round on 1 tray with floured hands. Mark the round into 4 wedges, using the back of a floured knife. Repeat with the remaining dough and tray.

Bake scone cakes for 25 minutes, swapping trays on shelves halfway through cooking time, or until tops are golden brown.

Dust scones with sifted icing sugar. Serve in wedges as is or with more cream!

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Cherry and Almond Traybake

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I’m a huge fan of the Great British Bake-off. I have watched every episode of every season…a few times!

Kimberley Wilson was a contestant on GBBO in 2013, and I loved her bakes on the program. Her Very Cherry and Almond Traybake really caught my eye  – and tastebuds. The link to the recipe on Kimberley’s website is here.

Here is Kimberley’s recipe, with any tweakings that I made.

Ingredients

For the base:

90g unsalted butter, softened
90g caster sugar
1 large free-range egg, beaten
110g plain flour
20g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

For the filling:

6-8 tablespoons of morello cherry jam (I left this out)
40g dried sour cherries, chopped
5 maraschino cherries chopped

Frangipane:

90g unsalted butter, softened
80g caster sugar
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
180g ground almonds
30g plain flour
A few drops almond extract
Zest of a lemon
Pinch of salt

Topping:

60g unsalted butter
60g caster sugar
1tbsp runny honey
60g flaked almonds (I used macadamias)
40g dried sour cherries, chopped
30g glacé cherries, chopped

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Method

Heat the oven to 180 C degrees or 160 C degrees fan-forced. Line a 18cm x 27cm x 3cm baking tray with baking paper leaving 5cm excess on all sides.

Combine the ingredients for the base in a bowl and mix. Dollop the mixture into the lined tray and using the back of a spoon, smooth out the batter to create an even base.

Combine the ingredients for the filling and spoon across the base.

Combine the ingredients for the frangipane and mix until smooth. Put spoonfuls of the frangipane  over the cherry layer and then, with a fork, push the batter across to create a smooth layer. Even the surface with the back of a spoon.

Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 20-23minutes until the top is puffed and golden.

About 15 minutes into the cooking time, put all of the ingredients for the topping into a saucepan. Place over a low heat and stir gently until the butter and sugar has melted. Turn up the heat and simmer for three minutes.

Remove the traybake from the oven and pour the topping over the surface. Using the back of a metal spoon, spread and smooth the topping all over the frangipane.

Return to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until the nuts are golden and the honey syrup is bubbling all over.

To get a really neat finish on the portions the traybake needs to be cut upside-down, so that you are cutting the nutty topping against the firm surface of a chopping board.

Remove the traybake from the oven and cool in the tin for 15 minutes. This allows for the topping to cool and set a little so that it does not stick to the board when you turn it out. Place a clean chopping board on top of the bake and, wearing oven gloves, flip it over. Peel away the baking paper and place a wire rack, upside down, on the bake. Flip again and remove the chopping board. Cool completely on the rack.

When cool, replace the chopping board gently on top and flip the bake as above. Using a large, sharp knife trim the edges and then cut into portions.

Delicious straight away and keeps well if you put it into an airtight tin.

 

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